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This policy brief explains why local governments in developing Asia should expand the use of biological treatment methods for organic waste1. It emphasises the role played by national and local policies and argues that coordinated policy action at both these levels is needed.
Biological methods, which include composting, anaerobic digestion and mechanical-biological treatment, have many advantages over current treatment practices, the main ones being open dumping, disposal in simple landfills and open burning, and can reduce the overall need for final disposal. Benefits at the local level include environmental protection, reduced costs for waste-handling and transportation (in the case of decentralised treatment), and socioeconomic benefits for the local communities, including green jobs. Lower emission of greenhouse gases is another significant benefit of biological treatment, although this might not be a strong driver for change at the local level.
Even though biological methods have been successfully implemented in a number of cities and their benefits are well documented, these techniques are not yet widely used in the region. We argue that national and local governments have key roles to play in mainstreaming biological methods, and in this brief we recommend policy packages that can facilitate the uptake of such techniques.